Teen oral health

With school, sports and social outings, it’s easy for teens to lose sight of their oral health. Maintaining good oral hygiene is important at every stage of life, including the teen years.  Use these tips to help your teen have a healthy smile into adulthood.

Brush twice and floss once a day.  Following this oral health routine daily should be the norm.  Regular visits to the dentist are important, too, for a professional cleaning and a thorough oral examination.

Eat and drink healthy. Teens should choose a variety of foods from the major food groups, drink mostly milk or water and limit sugary snacks. Teens tend to eat often so help them opt for healthy snacks like fruit, veggies or cheese. Soft drinks and sports drinks should also be limited because of their high sugar content, which can lead to tooth decay.

Wear a mouthguard. Mouthguards should go hand in hand with sports. Mouthguards protect the teeth, lips, cheeks, gums and jaw from an injury that could cause permanent damage to their mouth and smile.

Avoid tobacco, in all forms, including e-cigarettes. In addition to the negative impact to overall health, the oral health impact includes:  stained teeth, cavities, bad breath, gum disease, tooth loss and oral cancer.  Talk with your teen about the dangers of tobacco and how it can affect their oral and overall health.  Here are some tips to help you start the discussion.

Be cautious with oral piercings Oral piercings can cause swelling, bleeding, infection and damage to gums, teeth or fillings. If your teen already has an oral piercing, proper dental care is especially important to keep oral health issues at bay.

Ensure proper care for braces or orthodontic treatments. If your teen gets braces, their dentist or orthodontist can advise on proper care and maintenance and which foods they should avoid.

Monitor wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth often erupt between the ages of 17 and 21 and can cause pain and discomfort. Many times, there is not enough room for the wisdom teeth, and they come in crooked or impacted. A dentist can detect any issues and recommend removal if necessary.

The teenage years are busy and with some guidance (even with normal teenage resistance!), teens can set the foundation for good oral health.

 

1 https://www.cancercenter.com/cancer-types/oral-cancer/risk-factors

2Tobacco smoking and surgical healing of oral tissues, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19075440

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